HAMMOND | No one has to tell Nick Anglin how lucky he is and that it's a miracle he's still with us.
The Bishop Noll athlete only has to look at the ugly scars running down his right arm and across his heart, to know guardian angels were working overtime last Aug. 1 at the Ransburg Scout Reservation in Bloomington.
An Eagle Scout and National Merit Commended Student, Anglin was in charge of the zip line at the end of the Cope Course. The line was 30 feet off the ground above a grassy incline.
"I had just finished sending the last camper of the day down," he recalled. "The normal way we counselors go down at the end of the day is hook ourselves in through the harness and go down through the zip line."
Anglin said he often hooked into the harness from the back by "leaning into it" like a ski lift chair.
"I went probably a foot off the platform and I heard something snap and then I blacked out and I woke up on the ground," said Anglin, who fortunately had been wearing a helmet. "I can't say what happened between falling and hitting. I don't even remember impact."
The 5-foot-6, 130-pounder suffered a broken right arm and was rushed to a Bloomington hospital, where CAT scans revealed he had torn two layers of his aorta and the third layer was bulging.
"If that had burst, they said I would've been dead within two minutes from blood loss," Anglin said. "They had to airlift me to IU Methodist in Bloomington where they had a surgeon who was an aortic specialist."
No defects were found with the zip line, so Anglin's mishap is considered a "freak" accident.
"They told me, from 30 feet, there's an 8 percent survival rate and that's with 50 percent fractured bones," he said.
The accident occurred Aug. 1. At month's end, Anglin presented his shocked cross country coach, Karl Repay, with a doctor's release slip.
"Nick said 'I'm ready to go.' That's one tough kid. How do you stop that? Every coach wants that on your team," Repay marveled.
Anglin's first two meets were the Lowell Invitational and the challenging New Prairie Invitational.
"My first meet, I ran a 21:58 which is probably the worst I've ever done," said Anglin, his personal best an 18:30 last season. "It spiked up to almost 23 (minutes) the next race, but has started to go down.
"People were very surprised when I came back. But I'm not going to give up something I love."
Repay calls the little guy an inspiration for all.
"People say (it was a) miracle. His dad said he crushed a bunch of his guardian angels and I believe that," Repay chuckled.
"God's got a plan for this very special kid. You gotta think that's why he survived."